When the unthinkable occurs: a “no show” on start date.

As the president of a health care executive search firm I have been involved in literally thousands of job searches and placements during my career.    Most people understand the role of an executive recruiter.  We do not find jobs for people, we find people for jobs.

One of the most unsettling events that can occur during the placement process is when we make a placement for our client company (an job offer is made and accepted by our candidate) and then………….the candidate doesn’t show up on the start date.

This, after countless hours spent searching and sourcing to find a good match for our client- the employer that is using our service to fill a position.  This, after we have identified an outstanding candidate (on paper), arrange for first and second interviews, conduct reference checks.  

This, after an offer is made and accepted, and a mutually agreed upon start date is accepted by both parties.

A “no show” on the start date.  Not even a phone call.   Left at the alter.

It’s hard to fathom that a situation like this could occur but what’s worse is that it happens often.  Isn’t there an implied code of conduct that most of us follow, a common courtesy with regard to how we treat each other?  It’s called respect.

When an event like this occurs, everyone loses.  For the candidate who has wasted their own company time and their own emotional energy, they have essentially committed career suicide.  Even though the health care industry is huge, it’s a small world.  Character counts. Good luck next time this person interviews.

For the employer it’s even worse.  For every day a critical job remains open, the costs are substantial in exponential ways beyond opportunity costs and company morale.  Think about the time that has been wasted/spent in not only the interview process, but the time in which the employer is waiting and planning for the arrival of a new employee.

When someone accepts a job-depending upon their tenure at their present job- it is typcal to give 2 weeks to a month notice to their present employer.

When someone doesn’t show up on start date, it is very possible that 2 months may have been wasted. TWO MONTHS!

So how can an employer prevent themselves from being left at the alter on start date?

Communication.  This is why the use of a professional recruitment firm is vital in the search process in filling a critical job opening.  A good recruiter has the training and experience to  ask difficult questions all along the interview process.

Employers, try asking the following questions several times during the interview process:

1.  “If the job is offered to you, will you accept it? Are you sure?”

2.  “Is there anything at all that would prevent you from starting on the start date that we have agreed upon? What is it that you haven’t old us?”

3.  “Have you been interviewing elsewhere?  What stage of the interviewing process are you in?”

4.  “How does your spouse or “significant other” or family feel about you coming to work here?”

In summary, clear communication is key throughout the employment process and especially when someone has been hired.  Employers need to stay in contact at this extremely vulnerable time.

However, a hired candidate not showing up on a mutually agreed upon start date is unacceptable behavior.  It’s a boken promise or a lie, if you will.

In an age where almost everyone has access to a landline or a cell phone or email, candidates literally have no excuse for this kind of behavior.  There may be a valid reason for not taking the job, but there is no acceptable reason for not contacting the employer and being completely honest.  This is where true characted is revealed.

On another note, something positive can be derived when being “left at the alter.”

Better to know, now……if you know what I mean.

Any questions or comments? I am Bernie Reifkind, CEO and founder of Premier Search, Inc.  I can be reached at 1(800) 801-1400 or email at ceo@psihealth.com